At home in ELF-Africa, away from home

All Ikpang Ekpenyong Idongesit wanted was to spread his wings in his career and have a different experience beyond the city of Abuja in Nigeria. An indigene of Akwa-Ibom state, he wanted something more than the opulence and the great taste of luxury that Nigerians in Abuja are known and loathed for.  

Teaching was good for him, but he wanted to work with young people at a different level. He started seeking opportunities for scholarships, internships, and fellowships then, he found Princeton in Africa. 

He applied in October 2022 to Princeton in Africa, and they responded positively. They sent him a list of possible organizations that met his areas of interest, and among them was Emerging Leaders Foundation-Africa.  

“I did my research on the organizations and thought ELF-Africa came close to what I really wanted to do – work with young people,” he says. 

He had an online interview with ELF-Africa and was later informed by Princeton in Africa that he had been selected. Then came the big switch to Kenya for the next 12 months. 

“I knew I was on the verge of something new and was therefore not scared,” he recalls.  

Upon arrival, he joined the Public Service Emerging Leaders Fellowship Programme, which targets young public servants.  Under the PSELF program, he works as a Programme Associate assisting with the activities of the programme, such as training sessions, ELF-Africa events, and administrative support. He also helps coordinate seamless transition between different sessions during the training.

If he was nervous, his first impression of the ELF-Africa office helped calm him down. “The office had an African touch to it, complete with pictures of Pan-African nationalists, which I found very impressive,” he said. 

Within no time, he found himself immersed in the Public Service Emerging Leaders Fellowship, a programme the organisation ELF-Africa is involved in together with other partners, including the Public Service Commission in Kenya. 

He found ELF-Africa staff getting ready for the Youth Day of Service (YDOS) in different parts of the country. Though he had been in the country for hardly a week, he was incorporated into the team that was going to Rongai in Kajiado County. 

“I got the chance to meet the staff outside the office, met alumni of the different programmes and even planted trees at a nearby hospital,” he adds.  

Soon after the YDOS, Idongesit was involved with the training for the public servants, where he got the chance to rub shoulders with past and present high-profile career civil servants like former Head of Public Service Dr Sally Kosgey, among others.  

He also realized that young public servants in Kenya are just as driven as those in Nigeria. They want to change the narrative of public service in their countries and be the agents driving change in their various sectors.  

Furthermore, Idongesit finds ELF-Africa as a family, and that stood out for him the most. Passion for work and desire to excel were also key things that impressed him in the organization. For these reasons, he would recommend ELF-Africa to anyone seeking a credible organization.  

Being a PSELF Fellow made me a national hero

By Achola Mourice Otieno

The soft-spoken Mourice Achola has been recognised by the National Heroes Council, a State Corporation that formulates and implements policy relating to national heroes. For Mr Achola, an officer at the Correctional Services department based in Busia Main Prison, this was beyond his wildest dreams.

In the course of his duties, Mr Achola noticed that prisoners who had hearing and speech impairment were getting a raw deal.

 “Their needs were not getting addressed because of the communication barrier,” he says.

Keen to help, he enrolled for a sign language course at the Kenya Institute for Special Education under the sponsorship of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and became the only sign language interpreter at the station.

He was appointed the Disability and Inclusion Officer at the station by the officer in charge who is also his mentor, Assistant Commissioner of Prisons Omondi Adero, OGW.

“I felt communicating with them was the first step to helping them get social justice,” he says. 

He wrote to the National Council for Persons with Disability to increase the sponsorship of prison officers to study sign language, and they agreed.

Due to this initiative, Mr Achola was honoured by President William Ruto as a National Hero under the Human Rights category on 20th October during last year’s Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kericho County.

Mr Achola believes being a Fellow at the Public Service Emerging Leaders Fellowship Programme played a big role in winning the award.

While nominations for the awards are done by departments and individuals, Mr Achola nominated himself and cited his current training at the Public Service Emerging Leaders Fellowship Programme and was surprised when he was awarded.

“I strongly believe being a Fellow at the programme raised my profile,” he says confidently.

Fueling creativity and imagination through art

There is something about putting a brush on canvas that can bring one’s energy and emotion to the surface.

Art therapy, be it painting, sculpting, or drawing, has the unique ability to help one express himself or herself better than words would have done.

This is what spurred Rehema Njoroge to start Creative Therapies and Intellectual Mapping, an organisation that works with children to spark intellectual and creative development. The intensity, concentration, and random mix of colours help the young ones be in touch with themselves.

Rehema, a Fellow of Emerging Leaders Foundation-Africa’s African Biblical and Leadership Initiative, saw a need in the society and responded to it. She realised that children were spending too much time indoors on televisions and computer games. She saw an opportunity to help the children pour out their thoughts and feelings into art. In a week, she hosts about ten children at her family’s residence in Thika, especially on weekends.

They also engage in modelling, playing with pebbles, mind games, Rubik’s cubes, and paintings. Art therapy can also help adults step into their creative thinking, as students from NLA University College in Norway found out. The students who were in the country to explore the country’s history and culture as part of their intercultural studies course improved their moods and boosted creativity as their brushes encountered pottery.

“Everyone is creative and there is nothing like bad painting,” Rehema assured the eager students as they mixed their colours on their pallets.

As they got to work, even those who were hesitant at first could be seen engrossed with concentration on their painting. True to Regina’s words, with patience, the students produced some amazing paintings.

How family unity helped PSELF Fellow bag the Global Peace Award

On December 21st last year, Eliud Karani was honoured and received the Global Peace Award, a prestigious recognition for his efforts in saving a family from breaking up.

Karani, a civil servant in the State Department of Social Protection and Senior Citizen Affairs, is a cohort Two Fellow at the Public Service Emerging Leaders Fellowship Programme (PSELF).

PSELF is jointly implemented by Emerging Leaders Foundation-Africa, Emerging Public Leaders, the Chandler Institute of Governance, and the Public Service Commission.

With the help of some religious leaders, Karani helped unify a family that was on the verge of breaking up because one of the partners was HIV positive while the other was negative.

Such couples often face serious sexual and social challenges, and in this case, it threatened to tear them apart even though they have two small children.

 “My heart went out to the two children, and I vowed to do everything possible to help keep the family united,” he said.

During one of the PSELF sessions, Karani recalled one of the facilitators urging them to “find their little thing, then go about the business of doing it.”

This famous quote from the founder of the Green Belt Movement and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai inspired him to make fighting for peace in this family become his ‘little thing’.

Through his untiring effort that saw the family remain united, Eliud showed the role that mediation can play. It’s a feat he attributes to lessons from conflict resolution at Chandler Institute. Chandler Institute is one of the partners who prepare the curriculum for the training of the Fellows.

“Managing conflict is one of the free courses offered by the Institute,” he says.

Karani, who is one of the three presidents of Cohort Two, says PSELF training has earned him respect from his superiors in the department. Through the training, he has developed Citizen-centric services.

“I can put in extra hours at work if it will help someone who is seeking our services,” he says.

This has helped him register over 2,000 senior citizens in his sub-county. He has also learned the importance of integrity and value-based leadership in his service.

Don’t Agonize, Organize.

The title of this article is a widely used slogan and is credited to the Afro-American woman civil rights activist Florence Rae Kennedy, its popularity stems from two realities; on the one had we cringe at the pain, suffering and indignities afflicted on us, while on the other hand we are challenged as to what we can do in response.

Agonizing is a much-taken path by the youth since its easy to complain, to talk ourselves into believing that nothing we do can bring about any change, and most times we wait for the “right moment” (whatever that means). Constantly procrastinating action and rationalizing it with the fear of timing – news flash; the right time is NOW, if you choose to make it one.

Proper and collective organization is the key to the 75% of youth in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa turning their potential power into REAL power that will end historical political and economic marginalization. There is a lot of talk that the political class should hand over power/ include young people in government, but truth be told, power is hardly ever given on a silver plater, leaders have to EMERGE and EVOLVE over the period of organizing, and it is these leaders who then champion for the beginning an era of youth participation.

In Kericho county for example, a group of young people has started the journey of organizing themselves to engage fellow young people better and to participate in the governance processes of the county. What started in 2017 as a group of fifteen youths identified, trained and sent out by Emerging Leaders Foundation to start meaningful engagement with the county government and move from noise to voice, has now grown into a formidable youth working group. As of last month, the group had brought together representatives from 27 of the 30 wards.

The purpose of the newly formed Kericho Youth Leadership Network is to be the umbrella organization for all youth groups/organizations in the county for effective driving of the youth agenda, enhance youth participation in governance processes and foster attitude change through capacity building and opportunity tapping for the youth of Kericho. In other words, the vijana of Kericho want to mobilize around issues, they are tired of being on the periphery and being turned in mere spectators and cheer leaders in their own territory, they have realized something which I hope resonates with young people across the country; that yes, we can! (Tunaweza) That we are the captains of our ships; masters of our destinies and for change to occur we must desire it, we must trigger it and we must sacrifice for it.

Three key lessons from the youth of Kericho;

  1. Collective action is stronger than individual action – mobilization, clarity and strategy.
  2. We need serious organization to get things done – commitment, effectivity and inclusivity.
  3. Alternative to elected leadership is unelected leadership – leaders without titles.

Agonizing never got people anywhere, it only maintained the status quo. Our aspirations will be met depending on how well and fast we ORGANIZE!


Millennials stand up, this is the hour

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A United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN Desa) analysis report, ‘World Population Prospects 2017’, shows that people born after Year 2000, commonly referred to as Generation Z, will next year constitute 32 per cent of the world’s population, surpassing Millennials, or Generation Y, who will comprise 31.5 per cent.

Millennials are the demographic cohort following Generation X. They were born between the early 1980s and the mid ’90s to early 2000s.

Next year, the first batch of circa one million Kenyans born in 2001 will turn 18, the age of majority. And whereas, the world will wait till next year to experience this phenomenon, Kenya’s Generation Z have already surpassed Millennials as we are a child-rich nation, with slightly over half of the population under 18.

Millennials (Yours Truly included), with their exceptionalism and self-centredness, must contend with the fact that they are not only old but also a minority that ought to give way to Generation Z — a people who have never known a non-digital world, have a more global thinking, are less self-centred, are tech-savvy and entrepreneurial.


Millennials are now the elders of this generation (by the way, you don’t argue with age; no one wins). Already, there’s no room for passing the blame to the generation ahead as Millennials assume watch over the nation and, therefore, take on national responsibility.

With a background of such an epic demographic handover on the homestretch, the nation is also plagued with a host of other challenges threatening its very existence — including massive unemployment, an unbearable national debt, fledgling leadership and an economy in turmoil.


Policymakers, educators and the private sector had just cracked an understanding of the Millennials, and here we are, with the arrival of a different generation in a country now seemingly lost at sea.

The political front is amorphous; you can’t tell head from tail, government and opposition — a larger Jubilee group with three formations: A (Kitaeleweka), B (Tangatanga) and C (Tingatinga). In addition, we have a weakened civil society, a rogue Parliament and an apathetic electorate.

Millennials now have the singular task of leading the charge in shouldering the largest national debt any generation of Kenyans has ever serviced, defend civil liberties and revive the economy before Generation Z takes the baton of the republic.


But as this is happening, the rest of the world is preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0); a technological revolution riding on Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that will fundamentally alter the way we live in a scope, scale and complexity never experienced by Mankind before.

No one knows how that will unfold as yet but the response to this must be integrated and comprehensive involving polity, public, academia, private sector and civil society.

And with Kenya at a crossroads, grappling with a present too complex, the future is bleak — unless Millennials show up for duty with diligence, determination and discipline. For this is their hour!

Mr Maliba is a programme manager at Emerging Leaders Foundation (ELF). Twitter: @ArnoldMaliba

Courtesy of:–this-is-the-hour/440808-4764584-lyknnez/index.html

Youth at the Center of Social Change in Kenya.

You can’t start a fire without a spark! Whenever society is faced with the greatest of threats, it has the tendency to constantly turn to the youth. The energy in pursuit, purity of purpose, clarity of vision and passion in articulation of issues is recipe for successful revolutions.

The last decade has arguably been the worst time for the youth of Kenya, we’ve been leathered from every side, our dreams shattered, the promise of education bleak, the availability of jobs almost nil, the factors of production held in the hands of a few greedy men.

But then I’m reminded that, “the best thing you can learn from the worst times of our life is that it always gets better. It may take a month, a year, a decade, but it will get better if you leave yourself open to it.”

In the last election something happened that went unnoticed or rather wasn’t properly celebrated. First, we got more youth into the different elective positions, but perhaps most interesting is the fact that we had more youth who ran as independent candidates and even a greater number who ran on alternative political parties apart from the two big coalitions at the time.

Sometimes we need reminding about who we are and what we can become, a little pride,a little determination and a true sense of commitment can spur us to demand better for ourselves and our communities. The youth who vied inspired the rest of us, the fact that they did campaigns focused on their manifestos speaks volumes. these young people knocked on doors, sat under trees, engaged youth and women groups, they challenged the common way of financing campaigns by asking the people to support their campaigns. They walked on foot and freely interacted with the electorate. There were no big rallies, with loud music and “chini kwa chini” dance, no big cars with tinted windows.

Perhaps if we do our politics differently by ensuring that we do not give handouts to voters and that every Kenyan is invested in the campaign process from start to end, then we could have a different story to tell successive generations, a story that is devoid of violence, theft and bribery, but one that is full of hope and progress.

I am glad that this change is being championed by my generation and I invite each of you to join the bandwagon, change inevitable.


Written by Jim India,

Communication Officer at Emerging Leaders Foundation.